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The Paly Voice

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Daughter of civil rights activist to speak Tuesday

History teacher David Rapaport discusses the importance of Fred Korematsu's infamous Supreme Court case. He has invited Mr. Korematsu's daughter to speak about her father's legacy. Photo by Emily Hwang.
Social studies teacher David Rapaport discusses the importance of civil rights activist Fred Korematsu and his infamous Supreme Court case. Rapaport invited Korematsu’s daughter to speak about her father’s legacy next Tutorial. Photo by Emily Hwang.

Karen Korematsu, the daughter of deceased civil rights activist Fred Korematsu, will speak about her father’s legacy during Tutorial on Jan. 19 in the Media Arts Center.

After an invitation from social studies teacher David Rapaport, the younger Korematsu will discuss her father’s involvement in the civil rights movement and how his experiences can be applied to present-day issues.

“She is coming here to not only speak about her father but also to discuss the current environment where her father’s case might be used as a precedent for other groups,” Rapaport said.

According to the Fred Korematsu Institute website, Fred Korematsu was jailed and convicted for defying government orders and refusing to relocate to an internment camp during World War II. This was during a time when the United States government relocated Japanese Americans to detention camps. In 1944, Fred Korematsu appealed the conviction to the United States Supreme Court (Korematsu v. United States), which ruled against him 6-3, making the internment camps constitutional.

“He [Korematsu] is a fellow who stood up along the lines of the same kind of courage as Rosa Parks had and Homer Plessy had, to stand up against something that was wrong,” Rapaport said.

It was not until decades later when a legal historian uncovered a series of documents that the government withheld from the Supreme Court case that served to reopen Fred Korematsu’s case, according to the Fred Korematsu Institute. In 1983, a San Francisco federal appeals court reversed Fred Korematsu’s conviction.

Rapaport is appalled by the Supreme Court’s final ruling, and as of this day, the Supreme Court’s final decision has yet to be overturned.

“Mr. Korematsu’s case has never been expunged – so it still exists as a precedent,” Rapaport said. “And that is something that concerns us all as citizens. … Something we need take a look at now, in light of the remarks made recently about Islam.”

Students are also excited to hear Karen Korematsu speak.

“I’m definitely interested in going, and hopefully will make it on Tuesday,” junior Ibby Day said. “Mr. Rapaport has influenced me greatly my junior year. … His frequent references to the Korematsu family have made me curious over how she has dealt with the unclosed case of her father.”

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Emily Hwang, Author
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